Civil courts procedure

HideShow resource information

Civil courts procedure: Burden and standard of Pro

In civil cases standard of proof is balance of probabilities meaning Court will assess evidence advanced by each party and decide whose case is more probable

e.g. if claimant allefes defendant was negligent in his actions, burden of proof will be on claimant to prove it was more probably than not that defendant acted negligently. 

1 of 17

Procedure used to make civil claim- before strarti

Before using formal court proceedings against defendent, claimant first needs to contact defendant to inform him they believe they have claim against hem. 

Claimant should set out brief details of claim.

If no response back within reasonable time/defendant denies liability, then claimant may issue formal court proceedings. 

2 of 17

Issuing formal court proceedings

Claimant fill in Claim form (Form N1) which will set out names and addresses of parties, details of claim and statement of truth. Form will be filed at court and appropriate court fee paid. 

Claimant will commence legal action either in local CC/nearest HC, depedning on value of claim. 

Defendant served with claim (recieved copy of claim form) by court and will have two weeks in which to respond to claim.Response could be:

  • admit the claim in whole/part.
  • deny liability.
  • counter-claim against claimant. 

If no response from defendant then claimant wins as can apply for 'default judgment' and they will be judged entitled to damages claimed. 

Default judgement could be set aside if defendant shows they have good defence to action but may have to pay claimants wasted legal costs incurred as result of default. If claim admitted, matter will end when claimant recieves payment and claimant notifies court when matter concluded.

3 of 17

Allocation to a track-trial hearing

If claim denied then will be allocated to TRACK which will determine procedure to be followed:

  • Small claims track (court)
  • Fast track
  • Multi track
4 of 17

Small claims track

Both parties encouraged to represent themselves at hearing. 

However it's possible to use expert in proceedings provided judge agrees and cost's paid by person using him/her.

Damages limit=£10,000 (unless personal injury action then it's £1,000).

5 of 17

Fast track

If case allocated to fast track the parties will both recieve Form N154.

This will tell parties what they have to do to prepare for trial and within 30 weeks prep time- 'Directions' and the date of trial.

Trial itself wont last more than 5 hours.

Written statements from experts are preferred over oral evidence and number of expert witnesses that can be called is severely limited.

Damages limit= £25,000.

6 of 17

Multi track

Form N155 used if claim been allocated to multi track.

No standard procedure for multi track cases, so For, N155 will vary in content.

May contain Directions/may use something called 'Case Management Conference'. This is an informal meeting of parties where judge reviews how case is progressing. 

Common for judge to hold 'Pre-Trial Review' this is to tell parties what to do at trial.

After trial court will send both parties an order that sets out judges decision and any other order costs. 

Will tell person liable to pay, who to pay, where to pay and when to pay.

Damafes limit= none. 

7 of 17

After trial hearing

Court senf letter to both parties giving decision and any actions to take.

May be possible to appeal decision. 

8 of 17

Enforcing Judgement

If defendant fails to pay then claimant may have to ask court for further help to enforce judgement like appointing court Bailfiff. 

The bailiff will ask for payment within 7 days. If debt isn't paid then bailiff will visit person's home/business to see if anything could be seized and sold to pay debt. 

Claimant will have to pay extra fees to court to involve bailiff in this way. 

9 of 17

Civil Appeals process

Unsuccessful party in civil action can appeal decision to higher court but leave/permission to appeal must be obtained from trial judge.

Most cases grounds for appeal relate to legal arguments rather than arguments about facts of case.

If appellant successful in appeal the decision of trial judge may be overturned or damages reduced.

In John v Mirror Newspaper Group 1997 the award of High Court of £350,000 damages was reduced to £75,000 by COA.

10 of 17

Routes of Civil Appeal are:

From small claims court- dealt with by senior judge within CC (Circuit judge would hear appeal).

From county court- route of appeal will normally lie to HC (single judge) if case under £25,000. Higher value cases would normally be appealed to COA Civil Division. 

From magistrates court- appeals go to High Court Divisional Court (2-3 judges hearing appeal).

From high court- appealed to COA Civil Division, where 3 lord Justices of appeal would hear appeal, unless leapfrog appeal.

From court of appeal- Supreme court but permission to appeal only granted if case raises legal issues of general public importance. 

11 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

too expensive

too slow

too complex

too intimidating 

12 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

1) Nature of Adversial System in English courts. 

Judfe acts as neutral umpire whilst two sides argue case before him an party whose case is most convincing wins.

Contrasts with Inquisitorial Appeoach adopted many other systems, by which judges take more directive, interventionalist rolw (favoured in tribunal systems) ad result is impartial enquiry into truth rather than contest.

13 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

2) Fear of going to court and difficulty of obtaining legal advice often deters people from taking legal actions 

14 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

3) Money problems- people may not be able afford to sue/defend cases. Legal ad was originally intended to help is now avaiable only to very poorest members of society.

15 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

4) Civil process long and slow, particulary at pre trial stage. Typical High Court case can take up to 3 years to get to court.

16 of 17

Criticisms of civil justice process

5) Adversial nature of proceedings encourages parties to be secretive about info rather than sharing it. This is compounded by complex rules of evidence. 

17 of 17


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Civil courts and ADR resources »